January 27, 2015

Review: Golden Trail by Kristen Ashley

Tanner Layne and Raquel Merrick fell in love young, hard and fast and both of them knew a beautiful life they thought would be forever.

Until Rocky left Layne, no explanation, no going back.

Layne escapes The ‘Burg only to come back years later because his ex-wife has hooked herself to the town jerk and Layne needs to make sure his sons get raised right. Layne manages to avoid Rocky but when Layne gets three bullets drilled into him while investigating a dirty cop, he can’t do that because Rocky stops avoiding Layne. They make a deal to work together to expose the dirty cop but they have no idea the strength of their enduring attraction or the sheer evil at work in The ‘Burg.

As Tanner Layne and Raquel Merrick play their game and dance around the pull that draws them together, Layne has to discover the dark secrets buried so deep in Rocky’s heart she doesn’t even know they’re there at the same time untangle a sinister web of crime so abhorrent it has to be stopped... at all costs.

And to do it, Layne has to enlist everyone, including his ex-CIA mentor, Rocky’s detective brother, the town’s unpredictable informant and Layne’s two teenage sons all the while stopping Rocky from doing something crazy and keeping their game secret so Layne won't get himself dead.


Golden Trail by Kristen Ashley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5 excuse me while I swoon a little STARS

“Men like you aren’t made, though, Tanner. Men like you just are. ”

LADIES! We got a bad-ass alpha male DILF on our hands. I'm a believer in sharing good new first and this is the best news ever, believe me. And the whole book is written in his POV...what more do you want?

Honestly? This stuff is just perfect which ever way you look at it. Kristen Ashley books are like my safe haven. I come back to them with alarming frequency and once I start I can never stop. I said this before, but for me escaping into one of her books is like eating comfort food and just coming home.
It's wonderful.

Now I'm not going to lie, KA writes these books with an painting by numbers approach. You know what you get and I'm totally ok with that every once in a while, it's also the thing that makes it so easy to read. A bit of predictability and some heart warming cheesy fluff, mixed in with a little mystery, murder and mayhem. No regrets here. She gets me every time.

“If you are nothing else in this life, be wise, be compassionate, and be strong because those three are everything.”

Tanner Layne was shot during an investigation into a corrupt cop and when he wakes up at the hospital he is greeted with a face he didn't expect, not in a million years. Raquel 'Rocky' Merrick.

Rocky and Layne have a very intense history, but for the last eighteen years they haven't even talked to one another. When Roc was 17 and Layne was 21 they started dating for three years until one day Rocky left....out of the blue and with no explanation whatsoever. In fact she enlisted her father and brother to keep him from her.

And Layne was forced to move on from the only woman he had ever loved. Shortly after a drunken hook up resulted in a failed marriage and two sons; Jasper, 17 and Tripp, 14. Eighteen years after the break-up that almost destroyed him he is not only a devoted father who not always makes the right decisions, but tries like no one else; but also a hard working and very successful Private Investigator.

Rocky on the other hand had moved on as well, she is a teacher now and she got married eventually. Unfortunately her ass-hole husband cheated on her and she left him. Not that she was very heartbroken about it since that relationship was just as loveless as Layne's was.

Roc is a wonderful character. I really liked her a lot. She is sweet, caring, a brilliant teacher and just through and through a good person. Which makes the fact that she left him before all the more unbelievable and the actual reason so much more painful.

“Layne knew he was in love with her. Not only that, he’d never stopped loving her. Not once, not for a second, not for twenty-one years.Fuck him.”

After Layne got shot something within Roc shifted and she couldn't stay away any longer. Hence the wake-up call in the hospital room. And she goes even further, Rocky is out for revenge. She wants to get the SOBs who did this to Layne, but also she has history with dirty cops and she just doesn't stand for that kind of behaviour. Ultimately things get set in motion that forces them to to work together.

And to be honest, deep down both just want an excuse to be near one another again. Of course they can't stay away for long and with a bit of strategic manoeuvring on Layne's part things get really interesting pretty darn fast.

Now you just have to throw a few more people into the mix - KA style. Layne's two teenage sons who make some pretty awesome mini-alphas in training, his grumpy old CIA friend Dev, his mother, the dog named Blondie and then there is the scary biker with the big heart named Ryker. That's just the inner circle. There is so much more going on, at times I wanted to draw a flow chart just to keep up with all the cases our hero was working on.

You see, Layne has a bit of a helper complex and he can't say no to people in need. It's adorable and pretty bad-ass as well. So on top of finding out who shot him, there are many many more riddles to solve and lives to save.

“Wounds to the flesh hurt but they heal fast. Wounds to the soul never go away. It’s how we cope with a pain that never dies that makes us the people we are. Daily, people demonstrate acts of courage just so they can get through to the night.”

Golden Trail is one of those books you either love to pieces or you just can't deal with. It's long...and I mean looooong. Over 700 pages long. But here is the kicker, I would have read a few hundred more without thinking about it. I love Ms. Ashley's style. I love her attention to detail and I freaking adore this world she created where the protagonists from previous books in the series play big roles as well.

Over the span of now three books in this particular series (plus two more I haven't read yet) we get to explore the 'burg and all its inhabitants, the criminal proceedings and the tragedies that lie just beneath the surface. But it all leads to happy endings, lots of love and family. The sense of community and help between the people is just heart-warming.

“His fingers curled around her neck and he put his forehead to hers before sharing, “I remember, Rocky. I remember everything. I remember every… fucking… thing.”

So, we have my personal holy grail of romance tropes - a beautiful second chance love-story. I'm always ok with that. A male POV told story and let me tell you this is one testosterone filled read. Not only is our MC a no bullshit, take no prisoners hard ass, he also tells it like he means it. I don't think he even knows how to lie. His interaction with his sons it really well done. He treats them like adults and actually considers them as assets. Then you have all the other boys running around, helping out and investigating stuff. It's all manly talk and 'you got me?' shit. I freaking loved it!!!

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